With & Juliet starting in Manchester before transferring to the West End at Shaftesbury Theatre last year, Grace Mouat has been in the cast since opening as part of the Ensemble, and she also covers the role of Juliet, performing as the lead for the first time in November. Grace made her professional and West End debut in SIX the Musical and was the Alternate for all the Queens, before leaving last summer to join & Juliet. With theatres around the world currently closed for the foreseeable future, Grace has started her own self-titled YouTube channel, and during lockdown she’s been involved with online concerts and recorded the song Flat 15b for new musical Halls. Speaking with us, Grace told us about covering the role of Juliet in & Juliet, being part of SIX the Musical and starting her YouTube channel.
What’s it like performing in & Juliet and being part of the cast?
There is NOTHING like it! Watching such a huge-scale musical develop has been an absolute honour. One of the reasons I think the experience has been so unique is the connection with the pop world. Max Martin and his wonderful family were a huge part of our creative process and the whole development of the show. They are the most humbling, fun, chill family, and it was so incredible to work with them! Because of that connection with the pop world, big celebs popping in to watch became the norm which was CRAZY.
How is the experience as first cover Juliet?
Unbelievable. Covering a title role in a musical comes with a LOT of pressure. However, it has been a dream of mine for such a long time, so I pinch myself every time I do it. Plus, the & Juliet fans are so incredibly supportive of all of us covers which is just wonderful. The role is an absolute beast, you really have to be on the ball!
What do you remember from making your debut in the role?
Absolutely nothing if I am completely honest. It was one of the most overwhelming experiences of my life. I was so nervous about getting everything correct I didn’t process much. All I remember was walking out in the bows and having the biggest grin on my face. I look like a child who’s just walked into a surprise birthday party. Hilarious.
Was there anything that drew you to audition for the show and why do you think the musical is so popular?
I had worked with the director, Luke Sheppard, on a YMTUK project called Soul Music which was easily one of the best experiences of my life and had a huge impact on me growing up. Therefore, I was determined to work with him professionally. I think the musical is so popular because of Luke’s brave choices. The show is so unapologetically bold. We put ourselves in a really vulnerable position of being like ‘look, this is our weird and wacky show that has lots of pre-existing tunes and tackles some very important issues so take it or leave it’ and luckily, they took it… very well so too!
How was the response to the show opening in Manchester and making the West End transfer?
The Manchester response was EPIC. We had standing ovations pretty much every night! Therefore, the buzz in the West End was huge when we made our transfer. I was so happy that we had that Manchester run beforehand as we felt very strong as a cast and were very comfortable moving to the next step of developing the show.
How was it being cast in SIX the Musical and playing the different Queens?
It was such a challenge but also SO much fun. Again, being part of a brand new musical is an incredibly unique experience. I absolutely loved watching the show develop around. It was great to put my own spin on all the different Queens and having so much support from the creative team in doing so.
What was it like making your West End and professional debut with the production?
I was slightly stressed as I had never been a Swing or Dance Captain before, let alone worked professionally. Therefore I had a lot to learn, especially when it came to finding my own, personal way to learning all of the tracks. Before starting, I was panicking about being an understudy as I didn’t know much about it. However, I soon discovered it really is about finding your own, individual method.
My professional debut was as Catherine of Aragon, and I got to do two shows which allowed me to have one show to work my way around the stage and really get used to it. My West End debut was as Jane Seymour, and it was super emotional, and I was so lucky to have my family and close friends in to watch.
Do you have any standout favourite moments from your time in the show?
SO MANY! Our first Singalong was so epic. Walking the red carpet at the Oliviers was mind-blowing. However, my best moment was the epic reaction at my last show. So many people showed up specifically for that reason which made it very emotional.
Can you tell us how you were feeling on your final day in the musical?
I had never felt so supported in my life. I knew I was ready for a new adventure, but I was also incredibly heartbroken! It was particularly hard as I left the show on my own as I had to finish my contract earlier to start & Juliet. Me and the girls in SIX had a very sisterly relationship, we went through so much together so reflecting on those memories together during my last days in the show was really special. However, I was also rehearsing for & Juliet 10am to 6pm every day in the five weeks leading up to my departure, so I can’t lie, I was so physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted from doubling up, I was ready to just have the one show in my head!
Had you always wanted an acting career and what drew you to train at Guildford School of Acting?
Yes, since the age of six I had been singing and then started ‘am dram’ around the age of twelve before starting the GSA Saturday school. Therefore, I was very familiar with the school and saw lots of their third year shows which made me know I wanted to go there.
What did you enjoy most while at GSA?
I absolutely loved doing Spring Awakening in second year. I got to be a Dance Captain on it. Plus, the choreographer, Jane McMurtrie, is a huge inspiration of mine, so it was amazing to work with her. I also absolutely loved doing the showcase at the Shaftesbury Theatre.
What are some of your favourite theatre shows to watch?
I loved Kinky Boots and am so sad it’s left the West End. I also love Come From Away. I have a big soft spot for musicals with really important messages that make you leave the auditorium wanting to be a better person.
You regularly upload to your YouTube channel, can you say more about this?
Yes! YouTube is my new-found love and lockdown project that I hope to continue when this is all over! My channel is just a fun, safe space to be silly and do fun challenges, chat about life and try new things!
What plans do you have for future uploads?
SO much! I have a new series coming called ‘Cut To The Grace’ where I am interviewing friends on their lives and journeys. I am also hoping to turn this into a podcast. I am also going to keep doing fun challenges with baking and sewing as that’s something I’ve loved doing too.
Can you say about some of the projects you’ve been involved with during lockdown?
I have been doing lots of teaching and online concerts, including a Leave a Light On concert with Lambert Jackson Productions. That was a very weird but rewarding experience. It’s funny how normal performing in my lounge/kitchen has become now!
What was it like performing Flat 15b from the new musical Halls with other West End actors?
So fun! I absolutely love George and Jen who wrote the show. I had recorded some solos for them a few months ago, so as soon as the Flat 15b project came about, I was so keen to be a part of it as I knew the music was great. I am very happy the video got such a great reception!
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